When Finn was born, his parents Helen and Tony had no idea that there might be a problem with their beautiful baby boy. It was only at six months old, when they mentioned to a neighbour that Finn was left-handed, that they had their first inkling something wasn’t right; they were told that babies don’t usually show a preference at such a young age.
They took Finn to have a brain scan at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, which showed that he had suffered a stroke either in the womb or during birth. The stroke had left him with permanent brain damage. Finn has hemiplegia; a form of cerebral palsy which affects his ability to move and control the right side of his body.
“Our first therapist told us that there was no point in putting Finn on his front or right side, because he would never crawl or walk.
“We were devastated,” says mum Helen, “not just with Finn’s diagnosis but with such a negative assessment of his future.” They decided to look for help elsewhere – and this is when they found the Bobath Centre.
As soon as we got to the Bobath Centre we were able to move away from hopeless and disillusioned to positive and proactive. Bobath therapists can do things other therapists can’t.
During Finn’s treatment sessions, his therapist, Xanthe worked with him to use the muscles in his trunk in a more co-ordinated way so his postural control improved. This increased his stability.
“We played games that required Finn to rely on the balance in his right arm and leg, and practised activities that promoted more selective movement on his right side,” says Xanthe. “We discussed with him and his Mum the best activities to help increase his control and suggested future ideas, for example practicing hand-over-hand activities to promote a more sophisticated grip in his right hand.”
Finn takes away with him a home programme of activities to integrate into his daily routine so that his improvement can be continued.
After his six week treatment block, Xanthe’s assessments show that Finn has improved stability and ability to stand with his right leg (needed, for example, when lifting his leg into trousers, stepping up pavements, or kicking a football) and better balance when walking up and down stairs, without needing to hold on, which allows him to carry objects too. He was also able to reach further from his body whilst maintaining his postural control – needed to place objects away from him, push his arm into his sleeves or carry larger objects with two hands.
With the support of his parents and the skill and experience of the Bobath Centre therapists, Finn is now walking confidently. He goes swimming, loves playing football and competed in the running events at his school sports day.
These are everyday activities which most people would take for granted. For Finn, they are life-changing achievements, giving him greater confidence and the chance to be more independent as he grows up.
Not bad for a child who we were told would never crawl, says Helen.